Wednesday, October 30

Book Review: Bone and Bread

Title: Bone and Bread

Author: Saleema Nawaz

Pages: 337

Summary: Beena and Sadhana are sisters who share a bond that could only have been shaped by the most unusual of childhoods — and by shared tragedy. Orphaned as teenagers, they have grown up under the exasperated watch of their Sikh uncle, who runs a bagel shop in Montreal's Hasidic community of Mile End. Together, they try to make sense of the rich, confusing brew of values, rituals, and beliefs that form their inheritance. Yet as they grow towards adulthood, their paths begin to diverge. Beena catches the attention of one of the "bagel boys" and finds herself pregnant at sixteen, while Sadhana drives herself to perfectionism and anorexia.

When we first meet the adult Beena, she is grappling with a fresh grief: Sadhana has died suddenly and strangely, her body lying undiscovered for a week before anyone realizes what has happened. Beena is left with a burden of guilt and an unsettled feeling about the circumstances of her sister's death, which she sets about to uncover. Her search stirs memories and opens wounds, threatening to undo the safe, orderly existence she has painstakingly created for herself and her son.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I had a bit of a balancing act with this book, there were aspects of it I enjoyed, but there were a few things in it that I just couldn't get past, and while it was an enjoyable read, I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would.

One of the major issues with the book, was that I disliked Beena quite a lot as a character. She was just not a person I could like. I found her to be a bit selfish and harsh towards her sister, and at times stupid especially during a few scenes when she was interacting with her boyfriend who's a cop. I wanted to smack her when she sat around and did nothing after a major secret about her sister's death was revealed, and there were many times I found it difficult to keep reading the book, because Beena was the narrator and was someone I just could never warm up to.

I wish I could have been in Sadhana's head more, it would have been interesting to see and feel what she was thinking, especially during her struggles. I did like how it was told through Beena's eyes, I think it was an interesting ploy to keep Sadhana at a distance, as finding out about her in pieces, having her story dangled in front of me was what kept me reading - I always wanted to know more about her life. I also liked how the author showed how Sadhana's anorexia affected her family rather than just her. I found the author created a very interesting dynamic on how every individual family member was affected by Sadahana's illness - I just wish I was able to understand her as a character more - as she seemed to be a far more interesting and likeable character. The author also shows a fairly good story of sisterhood and family dynamics. I think the story itself was well done, and at times I think it could have been a fairly emotional one, but again I had to many issues with Beena, the narrator and it definitely affected the entire book for me.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a good story and I know a lot of readers would like the sisterhood dynamic the book has.

What to read next: The Sisters of Hardscrabble Bay, Clara Cullen

Challenges: 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Mental Health Awareness Challenge


  1. Without a connection to Beena, I can see where this wouldn't be a terrific reading experience for you. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I rather liked her. And being able to smell the bagels most of the time (vicariously) didn't hurt either!

    1. It's interesting how one character can create a completely different reading experience. Mmm, the smell of the bagels must have created a very nice reading atmosphere - I kind of want some now